Thursday, March 29, 2007

Harira, my way

The inspiration to last night's dish was chickpeas. For me cooking is about using ingredients that are in the kitchen and/or pantry and preparing a divine dish from that. The husband soaked 1.5 cups of dry garbanzo beans the previous night intending to make chole. If you've soaked dried beans, you know that they expand; the next morning we had double the garbanzo beans and no interest in making chole. I had a change of heart because I attempted to make bhature last week and failed miserably so I didn't want to relive that, again.

What to do, what to do... decisions, decisions..

Then it dawned on me to make hummus with half of the beans. I gave some of it to friends EB & MG. And AM was coming over to celebrate my birthday, offer decorating advice for the house (since I lack in that department) and to eat dinner. Guests over for dinner is a perfect time to make a fancy dish, therefore the other half of the beans were used to make my version of Harira, Moroccan stew, eaten after breaking fast on Ramadan. It is made on the stove in a watched pot but because it was harira my way I changed the recipe and cooked it in the slow cooker.


3 garlic cloves minced
1 medium onion chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
a good pinch of saffron threads
1 cinammon stick
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoon ground cumin, divided
2 tablespoon ground coriander, divided
2 teaspoons cayenne powder, divided
salt & pepper
2 cups soaked chickpeas, or one 16 oz. can
2 lbs chicken thighs, about 6 thighs
1 1/2 cups chicken broth or water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
almonds for topping
green onions for topping
Sprinkle salt & pepper, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon ground coriander and 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper on both sides of the chicken.

To the crockpot add garlic, onions, turmeric, saffron, cinammon stick, chili powder, rest of ground cumin, ground coriander, and cayenne pepper. Drain the chickpeas from the overnight soaking liquid and add to the slow cooker and stir. Place the seasoned chicken on top of the chickpeas and add broth or water. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Though it's tempting, don't stir during the cooking or the chicken will break into pieces. When serving, chicken should be in individual pieces. In the last hour of the cooking, add lemon juice.

Harira can be eaten with rice or couscous. Top it with green onions and almonds and serve with your choice of side.

After we finished dinner I realized I didn't take any pictures. We were all too hungry to think about pictures, obviously. My guests always jump at the opportunity to take pictures for MY blog prior to dinner, don't yours? No? Your friends are odd.

The recipe was a success and pictures might have been a great addition but they wouldn't convey the marvelous smell and taste of the dish when it's made. You have to try it to believe it.

side note: you can add golden raisins and tomatoes to the recipe but since someone in the family isn't a fan of both of those in this recipe, I omitted them.

This is my submission to Arabian Nights Mingle hosted by Meeta at What's for Lunch Honey check it out and try some great food.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

but what about the comments?

test two because my comments link is missing for the last post. dangit! I should just sit at home, cook, learn html, eat, make my blog pretty and cook some more.

Monday, March 26, 2007

cold drink for a hot day

I wish I could drink one of these on a beautiful hot day like today. Falooda is an Indian drink made with milk, basil seeds, rose syrup, vermicelli noodles and ice cream. Because of the hot weather 8 months out of the year in the region, people found alternative ways like this to stay cool. One of the foods the husband and I were both very pleased to have while in India. It was delicious.

When I was young, all the cousins in the family would drive to the falooda shop (yes they're so popular in India, they have shops just for faloodas) and had these for evening snack. They are filling. The baby cousin was, of course, the most demanding; only sharing with cousins that would allow him to eat or drink as he pleased. I vividly remember our last outing to the falooda shop with the cousins before we packed our bags and came to America. He was 6 years old and wanted his own glass of falooda. Mind you, they generally come in a tall beer glass and for a 6 year old, this is more than enough. He demanded his own and indeed got his own. He also had some tricks up his sleeve that were about to unravel. Everyone ordered theirs, and in the first round he ate the ice cream and the vermicelli noodles. The milk and basil seeds were passed off to the rest of us to finish; like he was too good for it. When the rest of us were busy talking, he walked up to the counter and ordered another glass for himself. As for the 3rd round, we learned our lesson and before he ordered thirds we tried to get him to finish the first two. He made faces, got angry and threw a fit for having to finish the milk and basil seeds and declined the offer. He got his way and surely enough he ordered a third glass. Good for us, because some of us rose to the opportunity to have 2nds and 3rds. Our outings were opportunities that would bring us all together to enjoy a good conversation and a tall glass of falooda.

Not only does Falooda remind me of cooling down in hot weather but it also reminds me of home and my cousins. While having it on our last trip to India, it brought back wonderful memories. It would have been lovely to go to the falooda shop with the cousins but unfortunately everyone is dispersed. maybe next time…

chicken satay with noodles

When I started browsing cookbooks and blogs for recipes I had one thing in mind, I must use my chicken thighs and left over pasta. I got the idea from more bread and cheese, please blog. Thanks Charise! I love it when I come across simple recipes that are scrumptious. It was sort of like a chicken satay but with noodles. It's one of those dishes that I'll use in future for last minute go to meals.

And because we love pasta, I can never have too many pasta recipes. Thanks to Ruth for starting and hosting Presto Pasta Nights, as I am always looking for variety of pasta recipes.

I've expressed my opinion on measured cooking, I don't do it! Therefore this recipe is an approximation. Because I like my satay to have a strong peanutty flavor I add extra peanut butter and that may not be the case for you; so start with little and add more if necessary.

For the marinade:
1/4 c. Peanut butter
3 tablespoons Soy sauce
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons Fish sauce
2 teaspoons Sesame Oil
1 tablespoon Chili Oil
1 tablespoon Rice wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon Red pepper flakes
Pinch of Salt (I omitted salt for mine because of the soy sauce and vinegar. You could too, if you’re watching your salt intake)
2 garlic cloves
Water, as a thinning agent
4 chicken thighs or breasts
Cooked long pasta, Rice works too

Use a large bowl to mix the first 9 (peanut butter through salt) ingredients. Drizzle 1/2 of the marinade over the pasta. Then add minced garlic to the marinade and combine it with the chicken. Let it sit for 15 minutes. As I say with marinades, the longer it sits the better the flavor.

On medium heat, add oil to the pan and cook the chicken on one side for 4-5 minutes, turn and let it cook for additional 4 minutes. For a crispier crust, cook the chicken on medium-high. Cover, lower heat to medium and allow the chicken to cook through for 20-25 minutes. Remove the lid, let the watery juices cook off about 5 minutes and add the pasta in the last few minutes of the cooking.

Serve warm. With a slice of lemon and chopped peanuts. Because we didn't have peanuts for the grand finale, we did without. And it worked fine. A quick and delicious recipe.

On a side note, blogspot is going through emotional issues and won't allow comments for this post. If you want, you can write them here.